Last month, Toronto City Council approved a motion allowing participation in a provincial micromobility pilot that will permit the use of cargo e-bikes. Cargo e-bikes are bicycles with additional storage and carrying capacity, as well as an electric motor to assist cyclists pedalling with the additional weight.
According to the City, cargo e-bikes will help meet increasing demand for local deliveries, reduce greenhouse emissions and contribute to less traffic congestion. The pilot project will allow the City to test the viability of larger cargo e-bikes, weighing over 120 kilograms.
“People have come to rely on quick and efficient delivery services while shopping locally online,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. He added that larger cargo e-bikes can help support local businesses in meeting the increasing demand for convenient and timely delivery services.
“They have much bigger storage capacity which can be more practical for delivery and courier services looking to improve their delivery times by avoiding congestion, allow them to use fewer vehicles that create emissions, and reduce overhead costs such as fuel and maintenance associated with larger delivery vehicles.”
Between 2016 and 2020, e-commerce sales grew by more than 350 per cent in Canada and by 2030, it is anticipated that 36 per cent more delivery vehicles will be on urban roadways. This will mean a 30 per cent increase in traffic congestion and emissions. Currently, transportation produces 38 per cent of Toronto’s total greenhouse gas emissions, a number the Pembina Institute says is on an upward trajectory as online shopping increases the number of doorstep deliveries.
Cargo e-bikes are a low-carbon option for transporting goods in dense urban areas and are an alternative to putting more delivery vehicles on the road. As well, in city centres, nimble cargo e-bikes can be on average 60 per cent faster at delivering goods than delivery vans and increasing use of cargo e-bikes will relieve congestion on city streets.
Carolyn Kim, Regional Director, The Pembina Institute said “We applaud Toronto City Council for allowing and encouraging large cargo e-bikes for delivery to operate in the City.” She added “It is a decision that is good for the city, good for urban mobility, and good for the climate.”
According to Pembina, implementing zero and low-emitting delivery systems for transporting goods and people is an important way for cities to play a leadership role in moving Canada toward a net-zero economy. Pembina calls the City of Toronto’s decision to tackle one of the single largest sources of emissions through a cargo e-bike pilot program a win for communities and climate.
“Cargo e-bikes offer business a safe, economical, and zero-tailpipe-emission alternative to getting around the city. Cities around the world are using cargo e-bikes to combat climate change,” said Mark Stout, Senior Analyst with The Pembina Institute. “We urge delivery businesses to participate in the pilot.”
Pembina is calling for the City of Toronto to consider all types of cargo e-bikes in the pilot project. Also, the non-profit think tank says the e-bikes should also be allowed in as much street infrastructure as possible, except for sidewalks for reasons of pedestrian accessibility and safety. Finally, Pembina argues that over-regulating the cargo bike program should be avoided and instead should offer flexibility in where cargo bikes can park.
In the lead up to Toronto City Council’s decision to participate in the Province’s cargo e-bike pilot program, the Pembina Institute provided key findings that can be applied to a low-carbon delivery system in its report Cargo E-bikes for Urban Deliveries.